Holiday Shopping is great fun, but you can also become an easy target for theft. A few simple precautions can help keep the season bright!
The best time to shop is during the day time or in a well light shopping area.
Shopping with a buddy is not only fun but a great crime deterrent.
Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. STAY ALERT
If something doesn’t feel right it may not be, so listen to your instincts. Remember, many con-artists will take this season to try and distract you and take advantage. This means not only to perhaps steal your gift items but also to perhaps pick pocket you or your purse.
Avoid carrying lots of cash and consider using credit cards. It is also a good idea to limit the number of cards that you carry.
Carry only what’s necessary and keep your purse next to your body. The best place for a wallet is in the front pocket
Dress casually and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. You don’t want to become someone’s target because of that flashy ring or necklace.
Don’t carry more bags than necessary and be able to move about comfortably.
It is much better to place your items in your locked trunk of your car, then to have them overflowing while in the mall and an easy target for someone to walk by and take them.
Consider placing high dollar bags in plain shopping bags –thieves may target high end buyers. Also, keep track of packages and don’t leave them in public places.
When in doubt about someone or something, call the mall or store security.
If you become a target of a crime, contact law enforcement and mall security immediately and try to give the best description you can of the suspect. Many malls and stores have surveillance cameras and the more information on the time and place of the incident, can help security review their tapes to locate the possible perpetrators.
Sources: National Crime Prevention Council - http://www.ncpc.org/
It is always safer to shop during the day. During the night time, be sure to park under a well lite area or in secluded sections of a lot. The more foot traffic past your parking spot, the better because a thief likes to hide and not be seen. Also try not to park next to cars with dark tinted windows. You want to know who and what is next to you.
Consider parking close to an entrance or exit when possible, but not next to the stairwell or an area where someone may be able to hide behind. You may be tempted to run up and down the stairs, but it’s not always safe late at night when you are alone.
The best deterrent is a locked vehicle with no personal belongings on seats or on the floor. Don’t leave purses or valuables inside car in plain view. This also means leaving them in the cup holders or on the dash. Someone make break into your car even for the small change that you leave in the open. They also love portable GPS systems, so put these into your glove compartments.
Lock your belongings in your trunk.
When walking to the car from the store, have keys in hand. Know where and how to use the Panic button on the key ring. Also, you may want to have your cell phone out to use for in case you need to make an emergency call.
Walk with the crowds when exiting the stores when possible, especially at night.
If you feel uncomfortable walking alone, ask for mall security to escort you to your car.
Notice who is standing around, especially around your car and if you sense something – leave the area and go back inside. Look around your car as you approach it for anyone who may be lingering. Look into your back seat before entering the car and if you are parked next to larger SUVs, you may want to look around them. Get in car quickly and lock your doors.
Going home: Watch your rear mirror to be sure you not followed.
Review your surroundings before you get out of car with your packages quickly and enter your house
Everyone loves to have their Holiday decorations on display, but we need to remember what message we may be sending to the holiday grinches who want to shop at our house for their treasures.
Resist the urge to run electrical cords from you holiday decorations through windows or doors. If you leave an open window, due to the light cord, you will become an easy target for a possible burglar. Burglars prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows, don’t make it easy for them
Always lock your windows and doors, even when you are at home.
Burglars are smart and they have seen all of the old tricks. Don’t hide keys in spare plants, floor mats or under holiday decorations using hidden key holders. They know where to look and will take advantage of the easy access to your home. Instead of trying to hide a key, give the spare key to a family member or a neighbor.
As pretty and festive as it may be, do not display gifts and other valuables where they can be seen from a window or doorway. You never know who may be watching your home for their own Christmas treasures and if they see high priced electronics stashed under the tree, they may mark your house as their next target.
If you go out in the evening, turn on lights and leave a radio or television playing, so the house looks occupied. Timers work great for this purpose, if you will be gone for an extended time. You may also want to close the curtains or shades to eliminate free view of the presents.
Many crooks will look for packages that have been left on a front porch or entrance way. If you are expecting a delivery, make sure someone will pick it up quickly for you. These incidents of package theft happen frequently during the holidays. Also, beware of companies who knock at the door asking for an address to deliver a package. Remember to ask through the door and do not open the door to strangers, to see what they need. If it doesn’t seem right, write down the license plate and a description of the suspicious delivery driver. Notify the Delivery Company and or local law enforcement.
The best part of the season is gift giving and how we love to share our new treats. But, you may also set yourself up for theft if you display all those boxes in front of your home for garbage pickup. When opening presents, take the time to break down your boxes and place the trash in garbage bags. Thieves will drive by and survey what homes have received what types of presents, so don’t advertise your new electronics and/or other new valuables that you have just received by putting the boxes out on the curb..
Leaving to go on a vacation is a great part of the holidays for many. By following some simple tips, you can help secure your home from becoming a victim of a burglary.
Before you leave , survey your home like a thief would, looking for ways to make your home less accessible to break ins. Do you have good exterior lights that can perhaps be placed on timers or used with motion sensors? How is the shrubbery? Does your plants make it easy for someone to hide and break into a window?
If your home needs more outdoor lighting, take the time to install it. Trim trees and bushes and be sure to you bring in your trash cans or law furniture.
If you have ladders or items that a crook could use to prop against your home and break into a window, move these into a secure area like a locked garage.
Are your locks in working order on all of your windows, doors and fence? Repair anything that is not.
Arrange for someone to mow your lawn, rake leaves and maintain the yard to give the home a lived-in look depending on the length of time you will be away. Stop all deliveries including your newspaper. Have neighbors check on your house and ask them to pick up your mail and paper if you didn’t stop the delivery. A sure way to catch someone’s eye of a vacant home is to have the mail and papers piling up on the porch.
You can also ask a neighbor to place garbage cans at the curb on your normal pickup day(s) and return them after the garbage pickup is made.
Inside, make your home look occupied: leave blinds and drapes open and have lights on in the home. The best way to use your lights is on timers, so they may go on and off as if someone was there. This is also true for outdoor lights. Another good trick to look occupied is to leave on a radio for noise and/or a TV. Again, the timer works well with these also.
If you can, leave a car in driveway and ask someone to move the car now and then. If you are taking your car, ask a neighbor to park in your drive.
Do not change voice recording message to say you are out of town. Turn the bell or ringer on your telephone down low. If a burglar is around, he won’t be alerted to your absence by a ringing telephone. Consider forwarding your number to a trusted friend or relative
Turn on the Alarm System and notify your emergency contact that you be will out of town.
Lock and Secure windows and doors of your home, fence and garage. Remember that deadbolts work best and do not hide keys under doormats and planters.
Notify your police/sheriff’s department district office if you will be away for an extended time and ask if they can pass by occasionally to check on your home.
Have a Safe and Carefree Vacation!
National Crime Prevention Council
According to Credit Advisor. Com identity theft is increasing every day. Thieves will steal your banking information, credit cards and personal information and then use your identity to obtain credit, steal money from your existing accounts, apply for loans, pay bills or to even commit a crime under your name. Identify theft has become such a burden that it has even caused some victims to have to close down their accounts and start fresh, while enduring a difficult challenge of clearing their names.
Due to the increased holiday shopping, thieves are always on the look -out for victims.
The best way for you to stop this crime from occurring is to be sure that you do not give out your personal information, such as your social security number, bank account number, credit card number and PIN/ passwords. To minimize your risk, follow these steps as provided by the Credit Advisor : www.yourcreditadvisor.com
- “Don't leave outgoing mail in an unsecured location. Deposit mail in USPS collection boxes.
- Don't leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends.
- Have your mail held at the post office while you're out of town.
- Always shred items that contain personal information before discarding them (bank statements, credit card statements, ATM receipts, pay stubs, bills, tax forms, etc.)
- Use anti-spyware and anti-virus software.
- Be wary of online shopping sites. Only shop at reputable sites that you trust and are secure.
- Do not give personal information over the internet unless it’s through a secure site that you trust.
- Encrypt your wireless internet connection.
- Erase your hard drive if you ever sell or give away your computer.
- If your bank or any other financial entity solicits you via email with a request for sensitive information, call or check your account online to confirm that the request is legitimate and not a “phishing” scam.
Protecting Your Personal Information
- Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards and debit cards to the issuing bank/ institution.
- Don't keep your social security card in your wallet.
- Guard your checkbook and make sure your checks do not include your social security number.
- Never provide personal information to anyone who contacts you through a phone solicitation.
- Check your bills and bank statements as soon as they arrive.
- Call 1-888-5OPT-OUT to remove your name from pre-approved credit or insurance mailing lists.
- Check your credit report for free online at AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to receive one free credit report from the big three credit bureaus every 12 months.
- Request that your social security number not be used as your driver’s license number.
Reporting Identity Theft
While these tips are designed to prevent identity theft, even the most careful person is at risk. As soon as you are made aware of the fraud (usually you will be denied credit or you will see charges that are not yours on bills) contact your banks and credit card issuers, the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian), file a police report, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-ID-THEFT).”
Partial source: www.yourcreditadvisor.com/blog/2006/10/the_ultimate_gu.html. The Ultimate Guide to Identity Theft Prevention
WWL TV “Eye on Crime” pamphlet
Traveling is exciting and fun and with a few simple safety tips, you can avoid troubles:
The importance of a Plan: Always have a plan and let someone know where you will be staying. Traveling to and start and end dates should be shared, as well as where you will be staying and what you will be traveling on.
Limit Cash and valuables:
Flashing large amounts of cash when traveling can put at risk. Consider using traveler’s checks or credit cards. If you must carry cash, never display large amounts or leave the cash unsecured in your hotel room or car. Keep a written record of your traveler’s checks and credit card numbers, and keep them in a safe place. Remember to also have a list of credit and bank card numbers if you need to cancel or report any theft. Also, do not carry your airplane tickets or passport in open view
Always have proper identification on your luggage with your identification information and remove all old baggage flight tags. Never hide your cash, jewelry or other valuables in your luggage and never leave your luggage unattended in the airport, train station or bus station. You should also keep your eyes on your luggage when waiting in crowded hotel lobbies. Lock your luggage and keep the key or combination in a safe location.
When On the Road
Being alert of your surroundings is very important, especially when you are in a new or strange place. When you are driving keep your car doors locked. Remember to try and stay on well-traveled roads and if you are lost, go to a public location to ask for her. Also, be careful not to announce your itinerary to strangers particularly if you stop in a restaurant or gas station. If you suspect someone is following you, drive to the nearest police, fire or public place such as a service station, restaurant or business. If you feel that someone may be trying to harm you or bumps lightly into your car bumper to get you to step out of the car, remain in your car and call 911. In an emergency, put on your flashers and if necessary, hit the horn.
Never leave your luggage unattended. Also never offer to carry a stranger’s packages on board the plane. If you have a change of planes and a long delay, keep track of your belongings. If someone or something does not seem right, notify airport security.
Partial Source: Automobile Association of America (AAA) and National Crime Prevention Council
Sometimes it helps when traveling alone, that you select a hotel in a well-populated location. Knowing where and how to get to and from your hotel may be your first step to comfort.
Typically, rooms located on the upper floors are considered safer from thieves but not necessarily for fires. A rule of thumb for fires is to consider not going above the 5th floor. Ground level floors have easier access for thieves to break into and run, so these are not always the best.
When checking into your room, be sure to notice the location of the stairwells in case of emergency.
Check that all of your baggage arrives to your room. Look for the in room safe to store your valuables. If one is not available, talk to the hotel concerige. Do not store your cash and jewelry in your luggage or in the dressers. Thieves know these tricks and will look there first.
Never leave money, checks, credit cards or car keys in the room. Take them with you. Also, when you leave your hotel in your car, do not display your parking pass after you leave the property. Store it away in the glove compartment.
When unpacking, it helps if you place your belongings in the closet and dresser. By arranging your clothing you will be able to notice if something goes missing. If something is missing, notify the hotel immediately. Be sure to note the date and time when last seen.
Also use all locks available to secure the room. When you have retired to the room, use the peephole to see if someone comes to the door instead of opening the door. The sliding latch is also a good way to limit access from the outside to the interior of your room. If your door does not self- lock, notify the front desk. The best locks should be a deadbolt type with a one inch throw bolt.
Be sure to also keep all windows locked and secured.
The Do not Disturb sign not only provides quiet slumber, but can be a good deterrent to would be robbers… believing that you are in the room. Use these when you leave.
Partial source http://www.ncpc.org/
Holiday gifts often involve new computers or online games. While online computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, they can also be exposed to dangers as they explore the information highway. To minimize the chances of an online predator victimizing your children, take these steps as described by the :
FBI - A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
- “Talk to your children about potential online danger.
- Spend time with your children online. Have them show you their favorite online destinations.
- Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child's bedroom.
- Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software. Use of chat rooms, in particular, should be closely monitored.
- Always maintain access to your child's online account and randomly check their e-mail. Be up front with your child about your access and your concerns.
- Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child's school, the public library, and at the homes of your children's friends.
Instruct your children:
- To never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met online;
- To never upload pictures of themselves onto the Internet to people they do not personally know;
- To never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number over the Internet, including their online profile(s);
- To never download pictures from an unknown source;
- To never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are obscene, or harassing;
- That whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.
Reporting Online Predators
If you feel your child is in immediate risk, call 911.
Should any of the following situations arise in your household via the Internet, you should immediately contact your local police department and the FBI.
- Your child or anyone in the household has received child pornography;
- Your child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 18 years of age;
- Your child has received sexually explicit images.
If one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in order to preserve any evidence for future law enforcement use. “
Partial Source: www.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/pguidee.htm – A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
WWL TV “Eye on Crime” pamphlet
Whether you are under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, it is illegal to drive impaired. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level must be under the limit of .08% (8 grams of alcohol per 100 deciliters of blood) and most people become impaired even below this level. (DUI) – Driving under the Influence or (DWI) Driving While Intoxicated is never correct and extremely dangerous for those around you. Those under 21 years of age will in most states are considered DUI at a blood alcohol level of .01% or higher.
If law enforcement feels that you may be driving under the influence, they may ask you to take a breath test or a blood test. They may also ask you to do a field sobriety test which includes having to walk heel to toe in a straight line, possibly reciting the alphabet or other tests to show physical and mental coordination. Those who refuse these tests are usually assumed guilty.
Many of our local law enforcement agencies will offer a safe ride home during the holidays. It is NEVER ok to drive under the influence, so make the call for the ride OR have a designated nondrinking driver.
About Drunk Driving - Information gathered by MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving
“Americans take 233 billion trips in cars each year. Of those, about one out of every two thousand trips is taken by those who are driving under the influence of alcohol. Yet, almost one out of every three traffic deaths involves drunk driving.
So a proportionally tiny amount of bad behavior is one of the major causes of death and injury on our roadways.
Every 52 minutes on average, someone is killed in a drunken driving crash (10,228 people in total in 2010). Every 90 seconds, someone is injured because of this entirely preventable crime. You can learn more about drunk driving in your state.
About one-third of the drunken driving problem – arrests, crashes, deaths, and injuries – comes from repeat offenders. At any given point we potentially share the roads with 2 million people with three or more drunken driving offenses. Taking away their licenses isn’t enough; 50-75% of them drive anyway. This is why we need to require ignition interlocks for all drunken driving offenders – we can stop these offenders before they repeat their crimes.
Two-thirds of the drunken driving problem comes from people who, before they kill or injure themselves or others, have yet to be arrested. That’s why we need to support law enforcement to help deter drunk drivers through proven solutions like sobriety checkpoints. It’s also why we strongly support research into technology that will eliminate drunk driving.”
No one wants to fall victim to a crime, especially during the holidays. If you are one of the unlucky ones, below are some things you should do according to the National Crime Prevention:
First thing you should do is stay calm and call law enforcement by using 911.
911 operators are trained to handle emergencies. They will remain on the phone gathering information from you while they dispatch help depending upon the situation. They will ask you questions to try and determine what is needed and will try to calm you down. Even when you are not able to talk, the operator will listen and dispatch help. They can locate you address if using a landline and send help.
Be a good witness by writing down all the details you can remember about the incident. Take a visual inventory of your surroundings and note what is different or important, including a description of the suspect. List what they looked like, where did they go, were they in a vehicle and if so, what kind, color and the license plate number. Where they alone?
If your home or business is burglarized, DO NOT ENTER, but go to another location and call the police and wait until law enforcement is present to enter the property. When able to enter, take pictures and try not to disturb or touch things because you may destroy fingerprints or other evidence. List down what is missing and if you have serial numbers, gather the information for law enforcement. If you have permanently marked your belongings with an ID number, let law enforcement know. Just as important, if you locate things that are not yours and may have been left by the thief, let law enforcement know and gather the items. Something that my very important to help solve your crime, if the perpetrators drank from a glass or bottle or left cigarette buds, law enforcement might be able to test these for DNA.
If you become a victim of a robbery do what the robber requests and give them your belongings. Most robbers ONLY want your belongings and will leave you once you comply. Resisting may cause you to be harmed. What we want in these situations and what most robbers want, is to get in and out as quickly as possible. When we resist, this changes their plans. We also look at shows and movies thinking we can overpower the robbers, but remember, unless they have the advantage of surprise over you.
Once the robber flees, you want to start putting together your details about what they looked like, how did they get away, etc. Be the best witness you can be. Call 911 and report the details immediately.